Manchester is a place brimming with creative talent, which can often prove difficult for creatives who want to get recognition. In an environment that can sometimes be competitive, it is easy to get disheartened with your work. This is where Cluny MCR comes along. This free-to-use website and print magazine helps artists who may not have been as lucky in getting their work out there by offering them a creative space. It is a platform that gives a voice to the cast-aside artists. Created by young student entrepreneurs Louis Haynes and Jake Macleod, it has proven fairly popular, garnering almost a thousand likes on Facebook and close to 2,000 followers on Instagram.
To find out more about what the magazine and website advocates, I sat down with one of the founders, Louis, to speak about his inspirations and ideas.
What does ‘Cluny’ mean to you and what spurred you on to create it?
L: I first met Jake, my partner and best friend, early on. He is a bit older than I am, and has lived in Manchester a year longer. He basically opened my eyes to the amount of creativity in the city. You don’t need to look far to see amazing work in every medium imaginable, but it’s hard for artists to really display their work in an effective way. The internet is really awful. It’s just this horrible chasm in which everyone has to sift their way through infinite content… so Cluny was born to try and showcase the city’s creative endeavours and bound them together in a themed issue.
Creative expression is obviously important to you – do you think it is imperative in our current society? If so, why?
L: I mean I guess that’s a difficult question for me to answer. I mean of course it is imperative, but creative expression exists in so many forms. I can only really talk of my experiences.
I originally set up Cluny as a way in which I could fully immerse myself in the city’s art & culture. I played music in a band from when I was very young until just before I came to university. When that finished, I felt really quite depressed. It was as if there was a huge gap in my life. It wasn’t necessarily playing music, it was the focus it gave me, and the opportunity to invest time in something beautiful and fulfilling. I suppose everyone desires that kind of feeling, so I guess creative expression is imperative.
How do you decide your themes and what do you mostly lean towards?
L: Our themes have varied a lot to be honest. We used to favour seasonal themes, we still try and use seasonal colour palettes, but we have moved to trying to capture more explicit feelings in each theme. This works well as it gives each artist a clear focus and stops the temptation they might have to submit new work. Our newest issue is called ‘The Glad and Sorry Issue’. It’s a reflection on summer’s long days and heady nights and the consequences of actions.
What was the inspiration behind the name and is it related to your content?
L: The name comes from a character in the Brian Jacques children’s book series ‘Redwall Abbey’. Cluny is the name of the villain in the books. He’s an evil rat with a poison-bladed tail hell-bent on raiding this little civilisation of woodland animals that live in a monastery called Redwall Abbey. He’s driven by a desire to steal this amazing tapestry that the brave house mice in Redwall have been protecting for thousands of years. The relevance of the name is a little tenuous. I guess that Jake and I are a little like Cluny, trying to steal art for our own desires. Also Jake does have a poisoned-bladed tail to be fair…
How can students get involved?
L: We update progress on each issue and submissions through our Facebook and Instagram. So to keep up with themes and deadlines I would advise following us. Jake handles the visual side of the content – art, photography, graphics, illustration, film. I handle the writing, music and mix tape side of things.
The launch party for the new issue is on the 11th of November and the event can be found here.